TO ACHIEVE personal and professional fulfilment, it is fundamental to have quality of life at work. This is why Portuguese legislation has put great emphasis on occupational health.
Recognition of the necessity to prevent accidents has led to the adoption of several laws that establish obligations on behalf of both employers and employees, namely the creation of a department in each company with this purposeor outsourcing to a company that specialises in occupational health.
In Portugal, laws regulate the organisation and functioning of these services and consider the possibility of companies contracting external, specialised and certified entities for the development and maintenance of the health and security services. Correct management of these services has become a key factor in increasing companies’ productivity, making them more competitive, because it means:
– Reduction of absenteeism as a result of a decrease in those who suffer from occupational illnesses
– Reduction in the “off sick” periods resulting through industrial accidents
– Reduction in the amount of compensation paid as a result of industrial accidents
– An increased assurance of security and efficiency felt by employees
– Reduction in the payment of fines and consequent taxes due to not adhering to legal obligations
– Reduction of payment of insurance premiums in the area of employee cover
In line with current legislation a scheme of medical examinations should encompass all employees and are divided into three categories:
– Preliminary examination: This should be made before the employee is contracted or, when urgent commencement is justified, within the following 10 days.
– Periodic examination: To be carried out annually by the employees below the age of 18 and above the age of 50 and every two years by employees between the ages of 18 and 50.
– Occasional examinations: To be carried out every time there is an alteration in the characteristics of the work environment, which may prove to be harmful to the health of the employee or there has been an absence of over 30 days by any individual due to illness or accident.
Every time that it is proved to be clinically justified, an employee could be advised to undergo an occasional examination, referred to above, as well as complementary examinations if required in risk situations.
Occupational health allows for organisation and maintenance of clinical records and other relevant information regarding each employee and leads towards prevention planning and informed evaluation of “conditions” in the workplace. Another important aspect of occupational health is communication of industrial accidents and occupational diseases to the appropriate authorities.
Surveillance of the
Health examinations cannot protect workers against health hazards and they cannot substitute appropriate control measures, which have the first priority in the hierarchy of actions. Health examinations help to identify conditions that may make a worker more susceptible to the effects of hazardous agents or detect early signs of health impairment caused by these agents. They should be conducted alongside surveillance of the working environment, which provides information on potential exposure present in the workplace. As such, the area of prevention, hygiene and security should be covered as follows:
– Periodic visits to the workplace by a technician with specific qualifications in the area of security at work, to be determined according to legislation in the area of environmental risk and the measures adopted.
– A survey of health and security conditions in the workplace, which would result in the supplying of a detailed report to the company. In this report, some areas, which may prove to be a risk (by this, we mean they may cause occupational disease or industrial accident), could be targeted for change in procedures.
– Identification and evaluation of relative health and security risks with the aim of prevention of work accidents and occupational diseases.
– Identification and evaluation of the risks of work accidents and occupational diseases with the aim of preventing these hazards.
– Study of the necessary and compulsory security measures.
– Planning of collective/individual protective equipment.
In this day and age, when we are facing a recession that is affecting all our businesses, we must try to keep them as healthy and productive as possible to be able to weather the “storm”. Taking care of the workforce and improving conditions in the workplace are two important ways of maintaining and increasing a healthy business.
If you wish to (re)structure your services, improving their quality, and comply with the present legislation, we are able to help you. Luzdoc – International Medical Service provides a certified service in the areas of occupational medicine, environmental health, prevention and security carried out by specialised technicians.
Stay healthy on the job!
• Dr. Coucello will continue writing about the important subject of hypertension next month.
By Dr. Carlos Miranda